Sphere

Sphere, or armillary sphere (Period)

Sphere, or armillary sphere (Period)

Terrestrial sphere (Period)

Terrestrial sphere (Period)

A sphere, more fully termed an “armillary sphere”, is an astronomical instrument representing the sky.  The name comes from the Latin armilla, “hoop, ring”; the instrument consists of a set of rings, forming the framework of a sphere, with the Earth at its center.  The rings represent the ecliptic, tropics, celestial equator, &c, of the sky.  The armillary sphere is a period heraldic charge, found in the arms of the Worshipful Company of Joiners, 1571 [Bromley & Child 153].

There is also the “terrestrial sphere”, a globe of the Earth showing the lines of latitude and longitude, and perhaps a vague suggestion of continents.  It too is a period charge, found in the crest of Sir Francis Drake, 1581 [Wagner 72].

Celestial sphere (Period)

Celestial sphere (Period)

Finally, there is the “celestial sphere”, showing the constellations and the band of the Zodiac:  what the sky would look like from the “outside”, as it were.  The celestial sphere is found in the crest of Bull, watchmaker to Elizabeth I [Parker 547].

For related charges, see astrolabe, clock, orb, roundel.

Brian Caradoc Walsh bears:  Gules ermined, an armillary sphere Or.

Romas the Mapmaker bears:  Per fess gules mullety Or and vert, a dance and in base a terrestrial sphere Or.

Aurelia Saturnina bears:  Purpure, a celestial sphere argent between three bees proper.

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